Louis Koplin (born Ludwig Kopolowitz) was born in Nelipeno, Czechoslovakia (now in the Ukraine), on July 30, 1920. Louis was born to an Orthodox family that had lived in the area of Nelipeno for hundreds of years. He was the oldest of six children. Louis attended the Munkacs Gymnasium and graduated in 1941.
When the German-sympathizing Hungarian government occupied his home, Jewish men were drafted and sent to the Russian front to mine and dig trenches after the German invasion of Russia. Louis was sent to a base in Hungary where he was chosen from among two thousand men to be a shoemaker. The others were never heard from again.
In 1944, he was sent to the Austrian border where he was forced to work in a labor camp. Later he was forced to march with thousands of other prisoners three hundred miles to Mauthausen. Ninety-five percent of them died along the way.
Within weeks of arrival, the Nazis abandoned the camp. The prisoners were liberated by the United States Army just days later. As a refugee, Louis received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He later moved to Milwaukee and worked as a pharmacist.
Watch Louis tell his story here.